“You know you’re lying,” Vilma Nunez told the National Police the day after they accused her and Gonzalo Carrion, legal advisor for the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), of manipulating and bribing the survivors of the fire that killed six members of a family in a Managua neighborhood.
“It’s utterly false. It’s the most criminal idea that could possibly occur to them. Nonetheless, it’s not at all surprising, given the procedures that they’ve followed: first they pick people up and later the Police invent their crimes. But this, honorable policemen, is slander. In no way have any of us failed to respect the victims. As receivers of their testimonies, we accompany them in their struggles,” stated Nunez during the weekly television program Esta Semana [“This Week”].
Last week, the Ortega dominated National Assembly decided to strip this human rights center of their legal non-profit status, and later confiscated all of their assets, alleging that they were being investigated as participants in the alleged “coup d’etat”.
On Wednesday of this week, the National Police announced their “clarification” of the fire that occurred in June, an event that caused huge consternation across the country as six people, among them two young children, burned to death.
In their “clarification” the Police laid the responsibility on Cenidh and on six young people who supposedly belonged to the April 19th movement. This contradicts the videos, photos and testimonies of neighbors and survivors who place the blame on the paramilitary and the police for this crime against humanity.
Cenidh has been in existence in Nicaragua for nearly three decades, offering accompaniment to people who wish to denounce violations of their human rights. The violations they’ve investigated include the accusation of sexual violence that Zoilamerica Narvaez registered against Daniel Ortega, her stepfather; murders of rural residents committed by the Army; and more recently, the deaths and abuses that the Police have been responsible for since April.
“From the moment that Ortega usurped power in 2007, we’ve been subject to persecution. From that time on, the persecution against the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights began to develop and this has been growing and growing. As things stand, we have no desire to be martyrs, and they’ll have to try many things to succeed in what they want to do with us. We’re going to defend [human rights] until we’re no longer able,” said the Cenidh president, who pointed out that since 2008 the members of this organization are protected by precautionary measures.
Repudiation of the expulsion of Meseni and the GIEI
Nunez said the expulsion of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (Meseni) this week is an attempt on the part of Ortega to “publicly cover up the truth”, since it had been foreseen that on Thursday their report on the situation of the country would be presented in Managua.
“I feel ashamed for them. How can our country have been capable of committing this level of abuse against people who not only represent an institutional commitment to investigate situations that violate Human Rights, but also represent the ethical face of committed people who have put up with many affronts in order to learn the truth … Daniel Ortega believes that by doing this, he’s going to publicly cover up the truth,” she stated with regret.
At the same time, she highlighted the fact that such acts create a negative image of the Ortega dictatorship on an international level, provoking even the rejection of the Latin American left.
“Ortega is putting the finishing touches on his image as a traitor. He’s the true traitor, who betrayed a revolution, traitor to a cause that many of us believed in and that was believed in on a national and international level,” she lamented.